Langley Schools Music Project- Innocence and Despair (1976, 2001)


Imagine a gymnasium full of elementary school kids singing and playing songs by The Eagles, Beach Boys, David Bowie, the Carpenters, Paul McCartney, Neil Diamond, etc in the 1970s. It'd be off-key and peppy. But you might not guess at the level of pathos that they'd also strike, by singing words and melodies written by adults who think they have experienced heartache.

That's what this album is: an inexperienced music teacher who taught his elementary school classes a bunch of contemporary pop songs and recorded them in a giant gymnasium. There has been much mythologizing around this double-LP-turned-cd compilation, but I can honestly say that there's a good reason for it. The Langley Schools Music Project still hovers in my top five albums of all time. One of the saltiest men i have ever known told me that when he listened to this version of "Desparado," it was so devastating that all he could do was lay on the floor. That's how the album is.
The best review I have read of this record comes from Frieze Magazine:


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Another musician, interested in and inspired by music from different times, different cultures, and different intentions.